Martina Velásquez Lemaitre, class of 2024, is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in public health. Her interest in the way science can be applied to solve public health matters and improve people's quality of life motivated her to conduct summer research with Dr. Amanda Oldacre from the chemistry department of St. Lawrence University on the Electrochemical and Spectroelectrochemical Analysis of Catalytic Plastic Degradation.
This summer, Martina conducted 30-40 weekly hours of research where she collected, quantified, and analyzed the amount of microplastics present in the Grasse River.
She first planned the experimental design utilizing the ArcGIS program, then collected data from the Grasse river in 5 different sampling sites located within St. Lawrence County. Finally, she completed lab work where she followed different lab methodologies and procedures such as 1) Sample filtration: separation of microplastics from samples utilizing different sieve sizes, 2) Sample processing: Chemical digestion of biological material with Fenton's reagent (hydrogen peroxide 30% plus iron II sulfate 0.05M), 3) Density separation of microplastics utilizing a salt-saturated solution and, 4) Identification and chemical characterization of microplastics applying the counterstaining technique with a calcofluor white/ Evans blue solution and Nile red dye.